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Archaeologists find remains of sacrificed woman in Peruvian ruins

By Emily Culver

The skeleton was found in Cao Viejo, one of the ruins in El Brujo archaeological complex in La Libertad.

Archaeologists find remains of sacrificed woman in Peruvian ruins

Photo by Andina

Archaeologists from the Wiese Foundation, directed by Régulo Franco Jordán, who discovered the Lady of Cao, witnessed an unprecedented event. About one month ago, the group found the remains of a sacrificed woman in the upper platform of the ruins known as Cao while they were excavating the ceremonial floor. The ruins form part of the archaeological complex known as El Brujo, located in La Libertad.

This discovery is particularly poignant and unexpected because archaeologists have believed until now that women were not sacrificed in the Moche culture, the group that inhabited and built the Cao ruins. This belief is sustained by the murals and artwork in the ruins that only depict male sacrificial victims.
The discovery has caused a significant shift in archaeological conceptions surrounding the Moche culture, a pre-Incan group that inhabited the dry northern Peruvian coast.

Régulo Franco told El Comercio why this find was so significant: “Finding a woman has caused a lot of surprise and, even more, to know that she was buried face down with the head facing West in the direction of the sea with one arm extended and an otherwise normal posture, is way beyond anything we have known up to now.”

At her time of death, archaeologists approximate her age to have been between 17 and 19 years old, according to studies done by Dr. John Verano, professor of Tulane University. He also told La Repúlica he believed her cause of death to be ingestion of some sort of toxic substance because there were no signs of strangling or other injuries.

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